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The itinerary is what bumped my rating to 4 - the rest of the trip is what kept it from being 5. I'll just lead with this: I am a Disney girl through and through. I have cruised other lines and of those have been most happy with Royal Caribbean if not doing Disney. I am generally a fan of Royal Caribbean's Radiance Class ships (nothing bigger...definitely no Behemoths of the Seas sized girls) - I like the size and all the glass AND that I'm not paying for a ton of bells and whistles for things I have no desire to use on a ship (ice rinks, water slides, fake surfing, fake sky diving, etc.) - and I've always wanted to go to Greece, so when I saw this combination of a Greek Isles itinerary with the Jewel of the Seas, I jumped at it. Embarkation was pretty smooth - I was cruising with a friend (a first for me as I usually cruise solo) and we took a shared shuttle from Rome to Civitavecchia and were able to go straight to check-in and directly onboard. We went to the Windjammer which was pretty busy, but we grabbed a table and took turns getting food. A quick trip to the spa for a tour and raffle entry and for her to book a manicure and we were able to go to our cabin. I chose a balcony cabin (9000) as a special treat for myself - I'm usually content with an ocean view only. It was a nice treat to have the balcony, and being right at the front, I could observe the bridge activity and even wave to the Captain and other officers. Service overall was good. I am all about re-using lanyards and had no issues using my Disney Cruise Line lanyard on this trip. I was a little amused when I observed that the crew members I passed seemed far more interactive with me than others wearing RCCL or other lanyards - almost like they knew what a DCL cruiser expects...which in all honesty is the attentiveness I think EVERY cruiser should expect on ANY line. Dining was...up and down. I am gluten-free, so that does alter my meal experiences. At the buffet, they have a "corner" which has shrunk from an entire pod to one side of a pod - and was very curry-heavy. There were times I just got things I knew were naturally gf from other areas because I am not celiac so cross-contamination is not as big of an issue for me as for someone with celiac. They did have a side of the dessert station with gluten-free things - lunch was very mousse/puddingish heavy. Breakfast there WAS no gluten-free area - but a lot of breakfast stuff is naturally gluten-free. They did have bread that you could request to have toasted in its own toaster, but they did not have bagels, which they did have on Brilliance 2 years ago. In the dining room, we had My Time Dining but I made reservations for the same time each night so we were mostly able to have the same service team. I pre-ordered each night, and it actually took me making a comment on the mid-cruise food survey for them to make it clear that I could go off-menu (after I ordered the chicken breast the second night in a row). Dessert choices did seem to have improved from the menu 2 years ago in that there were some cakes that were gf. I did SORELY miss the cold fruit soups - only one night saw any offered, even in the Windjammer. One other thing we discovered is that things did not always come with the sides listed - and the staff did not seem to realize that. Breakfast in the MDR they were able to do gf pancakes - though they were very heavy and cake-y even for pancakes - and gf French Toast which was good. The biggest glitch in the MDR was on Santorini night. Because departure was not until 10, they closed the second floor of the dining room and it was "open seating" (meaning no set dining times) so very few had their servers or location. They could not locate my order at first in spite of me telling them my cabin number AND my table number from the night before AND my servers - I was hot, dehydrated, tired, and hungry...all of which had me practically in tears and saying "Just let me order for tomorrow and I'll just go to the Windjammer" until a head server jumped in and found everything for me. I decided that if I do a cruise on Royal again and there is an "open seating" night I will just go to the Windjammer and not plan on the MDR at all. Entertainment... BLAH. There was exactly ONE production show - the poorly-named City of Dreams (honestly it's a nightmare) - and ONE semi-production show - Tango Buenos Aires, which was good but I'd seen it on the Brilliance with exactly the same lead pair. The other nights were some contortionists (no thank you), some Motown cover group I found abysmal and left halfway through their second song, and some other act I could not figure out what he was supposed to be from the description and didn't bother going to. I don't do casinos, so that's not a draw. Nights were pretty quiet for me - either curling up somewhere and reading or watching the World Cup games in my stateroom. (Those were shown in The Pit Stop and on the big screen by the pool - and those could get CRAZY...especially when Brazil was playing as we had a group of "15s" (Brazilian girls on a group trip to celebrate their 15th birthday) as well as a larger seemingly family-based Brazilian tour group on the ship.) I have never been over-the-top impressed with the entertainment on RCCL, but this week was a new low IMHO. Let's be honest - this trip was all about Greece, and she was amazing!! Santorini - I had booked the Scenic Kaiki Boat Ride and Volcano Hike, but discovered upon getting to our cabin and finding every excursion ticket but that one (and thus heading to Shore Excursions) that it was cancelled by the provider. But I'd been booked in the Volcano Hike and Hot Springs Swim at no extra charge. The hike is DEFINITELY a hike - parts are steep, and the ground is covered with loose rocks - but it is beautiful. The swim part was fun - it was a hot day, so I swam over to the hot springs area and then back to the cool water. They did make it clear that you needed to be able to swim up to 150 feet in open water to get to the hot springs - but there were some people who ignored that and were not happy, especially when a couple of PRIVATE boats pulled up and had noodles for people to use to support themselves getting over. The shore excursion does NOT, and nothing in the description said they would. We were given 2 cable car passes, so I went up to Thira and walked around a little bit. The line to go down was HORRENDOUS as there were 3 ships in port, so I opted to walk down the stairs. They are steep and can be slick and are shared with donkeys, but it was fine. IMHO Santorini was kind of the star of the ports because of the beauty. Mykonos - I did the Ano Mera Monastery and Scenic Island Drive tour and it was nice. I opted for the earlier time so that I had time to take the Sea Bus from our dock (we got the dock spot - 2 or 3 other ships had to tender) to Old Port - 4 euros round trip - and walk around Mykonos Town a little. Very pretty. Pireaus (Athens) - Did Athens on Your Own which was a bus into Athens and time to explore on our own. Our bus escort walked us to the point of the line for the Acropolis and showed us exactly where to meet her, which was great. The line for the Acropolis was long - as expected - and moved VERY slowly. And it was in pretty much direct sun. There were tour guides (they had the official badges, so they were actual guides) selling the tickets and a tour. We let the first woman pass us, but then my friend and I decided we would see how much the tour was going to be the next time we saw someone offering it. A guy came by and was selling the tickets at the 20 euro you'd pay at the gate and a tour for 10 euro. You'd meet him "under the umbrella" for the tour part. BUT since he was not gathering the whole group with him as he sold the tickets...nothing was stopping us from going in on our own and skipping the tour. We decided it was worth the 10 euro to NOT stay in the line - we just thought of it as getting MaxPass at Disneyland - and we happily skipped on through the gates. The climb up is steep and slick - and VERY crowded at places. At one point, I got swept up in the middle of a huge group, so I just kept going. We knew where to meet for the bus, so I was not stressed my friend and I had gotten separated. Having grown up in Nashville and seen the only full-sized replica of the Parthenon, it was AMAZING to see the real one!! We did meet up on the top and after finishing looking around headed down. We went to the cafe our escort had pointed out and got lunch. I found eating on shore in Greece to be a challenge being gluten-free. I had cards printed off in Greek but most places indicated they didn't think they could accommodate. By this point I'd learned a few things I could have that were safe, so I just stuck with ordering that. I wish I'd paid attention to the name of the place (I thought it was Mythos, but that was only the name of the beer they were all selling) because the food was good (hint: the souvlaki is GREEK and not Americanized all smothered with sauce) BUT there was an infestation of some kind of biting bug (I'm going with mosquitoes as it was NOT the typical bed bug pattern and nothing followed us back to the ship) in the woven seat of my chair. We know it was my chair because that night I discovered a bunch of bites all over the back of predominantly my right thigh - with a few on my left. I opted to just take Benadryl and put some gel on them that night (the next day I got some cream from a pharmacy in Olympia) rather than go to the medical center as I figured that is all they'd do...and charge me a ton. We know it had to have been there because of the two of us I was the only one with them (and if something had been in the room she would have gotten bitten also) and the bites lined up exactly with how my leg had been on the chair. But Athens was awesome. Katakolon (Olympia) - Went with Olympia on Your Own here. It was great to walk around the site of the original Olympic Games - but another HOT day! And you're in the country, so it's country hot! The little town was cute - and the pharmacist was nice. There was a beach volleyball tournament going on (no beach, but sand pits) and I watched that for a while - there appeared to be no charge, and no one ran me off. We did make a stop on the way back to the ship for shopping - obviously one of those stops where the guide and/or driver get a kickback from the purchases made, but this store actually had some nice stuff. I found the perfect wedding gift for 2 of my friends getting married next year, so that was a bonus. Debarkation in Civitavecchia was simple - no customs to go through. It was little confusing finding the shuttle (provided) to the port entrance, but we got there. We had already planned to just take the train back to FCO as my friend was flying onto Copenhagen and I was staying one more night (in Fiumicino - wish I'd chosen to go back to Rome and just paid a taxi to FCO as there is NOTHING in Fiumicino). I did ask one of the taxi hawkers how much for the shared service she was selling. At 40 euro each, we passed. (We'd only paid 35 each for the shared service TO the port we had arranged in advance!) At that point she started to get aggressive and flat out lied about the train service - saying we'd have to change 3 times (only one change) and that "It is a Sunday, so it will take FOUR HOURS" (we had looked at the schedule and knew it would take about 90 minutes and there were PLENTY of trains). At that point I turned around and said "NO! I live in New York, and I know how taxi scams work - and you're a classic." She was not happy, but it shut her up. It was 2 euro each for the shuttle bus to the train station (supposedly you can walk, but we did NOT find it as well marked as I'd read on here that it was) and 11 euro each for the train. Overall I enjoyed the trip. Greece alone was worth it and I would go back there in a heartbeat!! I will likely go solo when I go again because that really fits my touring style better. I am undecided on if I'd cruise Royal Caribbean again. I like the itineraries, but the lack of evening entertainment for someone not into casinos or the (IMHO stupid) adult things like Quest or Love and Marriage combined with the dumbed-down menus make it hard for me to really consider them again. Time will tell, but this girl is definitely planning to go back to Disney Cruise Line for the foreseeable future.

All About the Itinerary

Jewel of the Seas Cruise Review by WrittenOnYourHeart

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
The itinerary is what bumped my rating to 4 - the rest of the trip is what kept it from being 5.

I'll just lead with this: I am a Disney girl through and through. I have cruised other lines and of those have been most happy with Royal Caribbean if not doing Disney. I am generally a fan of Royal Caribbean's Radiance Class ships (nothing bigger...definitely no Behemoths of the Seas sized girls) - I like the size and all the glass AND that I'm not paying for a ton of bells and whistles for things I have no desire to use on a ship (ice rinks, water slides, fake surfing, fake sky diving, etc.) - and I've always wanted to go to Greece, so when I saw this combination of a Greek Isles itinerary with the Jewel of the Seas, I jumped at it.

Embarkation was pretty smooth - I was cruising with a friend (a first for me as I usually cruise solo) and we took a shared shuttle from Rome to Civitavecchia and were able to go straight to check-in and directly onboard. We went to the Windjammer which was pretty busy, but we grabbed a table and took turns getting food. A quick trip to the spa for a tour and raffle entry and for her to book a manicure and we were able to go to our cabin.

I chose a balcony cabin (9000) as a special treat for myself - I'm usually content with an ocean view only. It was a nice treat to have the balcony, and being right at the front, I could observe the bridge activity and even wave to the Captain and other officers.

Service overall was good. I am all about re-using lanyards and had no issues using my Disney Cruise Line lanyard on this trip. I was a little amused when I observed that the crew members I passed seemed far more interactive with me than others wearing RCCL or other lanyards - almost like they knew what a DCL cruiser expects...which in all honesty is the attentiveness I think EVERY cruiser should expect on ANY line.

Dining was...up and down. I am gluten-free, so that does alter my meal experiences. At the buffet, they have a "corner" which has shrunk from an entire pod to one side of a pod - and was very curry-heavy. There were times I just got things I knew were naturally gf from other areas because I am not celiac so cross-contamination is not as big of an issue for me as for someone with celiac. They did have a side of the dessert station with gluten-free things - lunch was very mousse/puddingish heavy. Breakfast there WAS no gluten-free area - but a lot of breakfast stuff is naturally gluten-free. They did have bread that you could request to have toasted in its own toaster, but they did not have bagels, which they did have on Brilliance 2 years ago. In the dining room, we had My Time Dining but I made reservations for the same time each night so we were mostly able to have the same service team. I pre-ordered each night, and it actually took me making a comment on the mid-cruise food survey for them to make it clear that I could go off-menu (after I ordered the chicken breast the second night in a row). Dessert choices did seem to have improved from the menu 2 years ago in that there were some cakes that were gf. I did SORELY miss the cold fruit soups - only one night saw any offered, even in the Windjammer. One other thing we discovered is that things did not always come with the sides listed - and the staff did not seem to realize that. Breakfast in the MDR they were able to do gf pancakes - though they were very heavy and cake-y even for pancakes - and gf French Toast which was good. The biggest glitch in the MDR was on Santorini night. Because departure was not until 10, they closed the second floor of the dining room and it was "open seating" (meaning no set dining times) so very few had their servers or location. They could not locate my order at first in spite of me telling them my cabin number AND my table number from the night before AND my servers - I was hot, dehydrated, tired, and hungry...all of which had me practically in tears and saying "Just let me order for tomorrow and I'll just go to the Windjammer" until a head server jumped in and found everything for me. I decided that if I do a cruise on Royal again and there is an "open seating" night I will just go to the Windjammer and not plan on the MDR at all.

Entertainment... BLAH. There was exactly ONE production show - the poorly-named City of Dreams (honestly it's a nightmare) - and ONE semi-production show - Tango Buenos Aires, which was good but I'd seen it on the Brilliance with exactly the same lead pair. The other nights were some contortionists (no thank you), some Motown cover group I found abysmal and left halfway through their second song, and some other act I could not figure out what he was supposed to be from the description and didn't bother going to. I don't do casinos, so that's not a draw. Nights were pretty quiet for me - either curling up somewhere and reading or watching the World Cup games in my stateroom. (Those were shown in The Pit Stop and on the big screen by the pool - and those could get CRAZY...especially when Brazil was playing as we had a group of "15s" (Brazilian girls on a group trip to celebrate their 15th birthday) as well as a larger seemingly family-based Brazilian tour group on the ship.) I have never been over-the-top impressed with the entertainment on RCCL, but this week was a new low IMHO.

Let's be honest - this trip was all about Greece, and she was amazing!!

Santorini - I had booked the Scenic Kaiki Boat Ride and Volcano Hike, but discovered upon getting to our cabin and finding every excursion ticket but that one (and thus heading to Shore Excursions) that it was cancelled by the provider. But I'd been booked in the Volcano Hike and Hot Springs Swim at no extra charge. The hike is DEFINITELY a hike - parts are steep, and the ground is covered with loose rocks - but it is beautiful. The swim part was fun - it was a hot day, so I swam over to the hot springs area and then back to the cool water. They did make it clear that you needed to be able to swim up to 150 feet in open water to get to the hot springs - but there were some people who ignored that and were not happy, especially when a couple of PRIVATE boats pulled up and had noodles for people to use to support themselves getting over. The shore excursion does NOT, and nothing in the description said they would. We were given 2 cable car passes, so I went up to Thira and walked around a little bit. The line to go down was HORRENDOUS as there were 3 ships in port, so I opted to walk down the stairs. They are steep and can be slick and are shared with donkeys, but it was fine. IMHO Santorini was kind of the star of the ports because of the beauty.

Mykonos - I did the Ano Mera Monastery and Scenic Island Drive tour and it was nice. I opted for the earlier time so that I had time to take the Sea Bus from our dock (we got the dock spot - 2 or 3 other ships had to tender) to Old Port - 4 euros round trip - and walk around Mykonos Town a little. Very pretty.

Pireaus (Athens) - Did Athens on Your Own which was a bus into Athens and time to explore on our own. Our bus escort walked us to the point of the line for the Acropolis and showed us exactly where to meet her, which was great. The line for the Acropolis was long - as expected - and moved VERY slowly. And it was in pretty much direct sun. There were tour guides (they had the official badges, so they were actual guides) selling the tickets and a tour. We let the first woman pass us, but then my friend and I decided we would see how much the tour was going to be the next time we saw someone offering it. A guy came by and was selling the tickets at the 20 euro you'd pay at the gate and a tour for 10 euro. You'd meet him "under the umbrella" for the tour part. BUT since he was not gathering the whole group with him as he sold the tickets...nothing was stopping us from going in on our own and skipping the tour. We decided it was worth the 10 euro to NOT stay in the line - we just thought of it as getting MaxPass at Disneyland - and we happily skipped on through the gates. The climb up is steep and slick - and VERY crowded at places. At one point, I got swept up in the middle of a huge group, so I just kept going. We knew where to meet for the bus, so I was not stressed my friend and I had gotten separated. Having grown up in Nashville and seen the only full-sized replica of the Parthenon, it was AMAZING to see the real one!! We did meet up on the top and after finishing looking around headed down. We went to the cafe our escort had pointed out and got lunch. I found eating on shore in Greece to be a challenge being gluten-free. I had cards printed off in Greek but most places indicated they didn't think they could accommodate. By this point I'd learned a few things I could have that were safe, so I just stuck with ordering that. I wish I'd paid attention to the name of the place (I thought it was Mythos, but that was only the name of the beer they were all selling) because the food was good (hint: the souvlaki is GREEK and not Americanized all smothered with sauce) BUT there was an infestation of some kind of biting bug (I'm going with mosquitoes as it was NOT the typical bed bug pattern and nothing followed us back to the ship) in the woven seat of my chair. We know it was my chair because that night I discovered a bunch of bites all over the back of predominantly my right thigh - with a few on my left. I opted to just take Benadryl and put some gel on them that night (the next day I got some cream from a pharmacy in Olympia) rather than go to the medical center as I figured that is all they'd do...and charge me a ton. We know it had to have been there because of the two of us I was the only one with them (and if something had been in the room she would have gotten bitten also) and the bites lined up exactly with how my leg had been on the chair. But Athens was awesome.

Katakolon (Olympia) - Went with Olympia on Your Own here. It was great to walk around the site of the original Olympic Games - but another HOT day! And you're in the country, so it's country hot! The little town was cute - and the pharmacist was nice. There was a beach volleyball tournament going on (no beach, but sand pits) and I watched that for a while - there appeared to be no charge, and no one ran me off. We did make a stop on the way back to the ship for shopping - obviously one of those stops where the guide and/or driver get a kickback from the purchases made, but this store actually had some nice stuff. I found the perfect wedding gift for 2 of my friends getting married next year, so that was a bonus.

Debarkation in Civitavecchia was simple - no customs to go through. It was little confusing finding the shuttle (provided) to the port entrance, but we got there. We had already planned to just take the train back to FCO as my friend was flying onto Copenhagen and I was staying one more night (in Fiumicino - wish I'd chosen to go back to Rome and just paid a taxi to FCO as there is NOTHING in Fiumicino). I did ask one of the taxi hawkers how much for the shared service she was selling. At 40 euro each, we passed. (We'd only paid 35 each for the shared service TO the port we had arranged in advance!) At that point she started to get aggressive and flat out lied about the train service - saying we'd have to change 3 times (only one change) and that "It is a Sunday, so it will take FOUR HOURS" (we had looked at the schedule and knew it would take about 90 minutes and there were PLENTY of trains). At that point I turned around and said "NO! I live in New York, and I know how taxi scams work - and you're a classic." She was not happy, but it shut her up. It was 2 euro each for the shuttle bus to the train station (supposedly you can walk, but we did NOT find it as well marked as I'd read on here that it was) and 11 euro each for the train.

Overall I enjoyed the trip. Greece alone was worth it and I would go back there in a heartbeat!! I will likely go solo when I go again because that really fits my touring style better. I am undecided on if I'd cruise Royal Caribbean again. I like the itineraries, but the lack of evening entertainment for someone not into casinos or the (IMHO stupid) adult things like Quest or Love and Marriage combined with the dumbed-down menus make it hard for me to really consider them again. Time will tell, but this girl is definitely planning to go back to Disney Cruise Line for the foreseeable future.
WrittenOnYourHeart’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Ocean View Balcony
Cabin 6D 9000
Nice balcony cabin at the front of the ship. SLIGHT obstruction in the upper right corner with ship skin. If you look directly forward, you see one of the lights, but I didn't find that a problem. You can see the bridge wing, and it was fun to wave to the Captain and/or officers. Bathroom small but functional (I'm used to Disney's split layout). Bed was fine (we had them split into twins).
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Katakolon (Olympia)
    Nice, provided transportation. A shopping stop at the end where it's obvious that the guide/driver get kickbacks, but the shop had a lot of nice stuff and not just junky things, so it wasn't as tacky as it could have been.
    View All 12,765 Katakolon (Olympia) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Katakolon (Olympia) Cruise Port Review
  • Ano Mera Monastery
    Very nice tour that included a stop at a taverna for mezes and ouzo.
    View All 17 Ano Mera Monastery Reviews
  • Volcano Hiking
    It was actually Volcano Hiking and Hot Springs Swim. I had not originally booked the one with the swim, but the just hiking was cancelled. This one was fine. Changing into my swimsuit in a small, not-ventilated ship bathroom after a hot and sweaty hike was not super fun (I cannot hike in a swimsuit as I need more support for "the girls" than a swimsuit provides), but the cool water outside of the springs was worth it.
    View All 27 Volcano Hiking Reviews